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Is your dog a picky eater?

Is your dog a picky eater? Sometimes it's a personality trait that dogs have their entire lives, and sometimes it's a relatively new development. Before I give you some pointers on how to help "fix" your finicky dog, I'm going to ask you to put on your detective hat and look at four things first:
1. Be sure there are no underlying medical issues. Consult your veterinarian about your dog's picky behavior, especially if there is vomiting and/or diarrhea or any other signs of illness present, weight loss, or if the problem has developed suddenly.
2. Check out the food you're feeding your pet. Is it high quality and nutritious? Does it contain wholesome protein sources instead of cheap non-nutritive fillers? It's only natural for a dog will reject inferior food. Also check to ensure that food has not gone stale or rancid as this can also put off your dog's appetite.
3. Do you rotate foods? Many veterinarians recommend feeding only one type of food. Changing your pet's food can create a finicky appetite if he thinks there may be something tastier coming if he doesn't eat. New foods can also cause stomach upset and discourage eating.
4. Is there anything affecting his appetite for meals? Is your dog stealing food from another pet or trash can? Could a family member be slipping him extra treats or table scraps between meals?
Surprisingly, how you respond to your dog's finicky eating habits can either help make them or break them.
What do YOU do when your pet refuses to eat? If you do what a lot of pet owners innocently do - pet her, coax her, even try to hand feed her - you're rewarding your dog with positive reinforcement.
Think about it... if your dog gets all that extra, loving attention for NOT eating, imagine what she's likely to do the next time you feed her!
I suggest you try this instead the next time your pet won't eat: Place the food in your dog's bowl and walk away. When your dog is hungry, her body will drive her to eat.
However, I'll be the first to admit that there are situations where this may not be the best approach. These include times when...
  • Your dog needs to consume a special diet that's less than appetizing
  • Your dog is growing older and is losing his sense of taste
  • Your dog is ill, undergoing therapy, or recovering from surgery and needs to eat for health reasons

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